The major stages of event planning have stayed pretty much the same over the past decade — but the technology and planning itself? Not so much. Now, there are all sorts of new tools available that make the process faster, more collaborative, and easier to manage.

From email marketing to social media advertising and partnering with the right sponsors, there’s a lot to manage. That’s why having a bird’s eye view of the entire event life cycle is a must in today’s competitive events industry.

Here’s everything you need to keep track of before, during, and after your event.

Before the event: Set the foundation for success

Like any creative endeavor, an outline of the what, why, and when of your event before you start planning is critical to success. A brief can help you map out scope, put together a list of key dates, and keep things on brand.

Event life cycle step 1: Determine goals and objectives

What is your event’s purpose? Defining your why gives you direction for everything else you do, from choosing a ticketing partner to setting attendance and profit goals, to going after sponsorships and vendor partnerships.

Event life cycle step 2: Put together a working budget and price your event

If you’ve planned a specific event before, you can start with your budget from last year. If you’re putting on a new event, make educated guesses and use this event budget template to get started.

This is also the time to set your ticket prices to make sure you’ll make enough to at least break even and, ideally, make profit.

Event life cycle step 3: Set the date and venue

Pick two dates — one that’s best for all stakeholders involved and a second best for backup. You may need to be flexible to get your venue of choice. And be sure to comb through the venue contract before signing!

Event life cycle step 4: Start your search for speakers, sponsors, and performers

Put together a list of your ideal speakers and sponsors. Solidify your ask (including the date, what your event offers, any costs or payments involved, and the format and length). And be sure to reach out well in advance, as the process will take longer than you think!

For more about securing sponsors for your event, check out our 2019 Guide to Sponsorship.

Event life cycle step 5: Visualize your sales lifecycle

Most events don’t sell out the moment tickets go on sale, which is why it’s important to map out your sales lifecycle. If you have it, you can start with sales from past events. Doing this can also help you determine if you need a website, or can direct traffic to your registration page, and what promotional channels you’ll be using to advertise.

During your event: Control the chaos

No amount of planning can prevent the unexpected, but you can do as much as possible in the lead up to your event to prepare for the most common (and uncommon) emergencies, fails, and mistakes. Here are the steps you can take to ensure the chaos doesn’t spin out of your control.

Event life cycle step 6: Don’t lose track of paperwork

From permits to licenses to contracts, many events require paperwork of some kind. Make sure all your legal ducks are in a row by doing your research early and keeping copies organized.

For a complete look at avoiding common event failures, check out this handbook.

Event life cycle step 7: Make sure you have enough staff on hand

Consider logistics, such as how much time you’ll need to set up, how many staffers and volunteers you’ll need, and if you need signage to help people get to the right place. Having the right team in place can help you ensure things go as planned.

Discover the three core staff members you must have onsite in the Onsite Staffing Blueprint.

Event life cycle step 8: Give attendees a seamless experience

From RFID entry badges to event apps that help your attendees navigate and network, using event technology can also help you deliver an amazing experience and manage the chaos. Plus, mobile or RFID cashless payments at food stalls and merch booths can speed up lines considerably.

After your event: Reflect on the results

There’s plenty to do after your event is over, but once the dust settles and everything is still fresh in your mind, it’s the perfect opportunity to surface learnings on what worked and what didn’t for next year. Here’s what you need to measure, so you can improve each event.

Event life cycle step 9: Poll your attendees

Send out post-event surveys to your event-goers that gauge their enjoyment of, and engagement with, your event. You can also ask for their suggestions or things they’d like to see you offer in the future.

Event life cycle step 10: Dive deeper into your conversions

Take a look at your ticketing or registration partner’s reports to see when you sold the most tickets and how that correlated to your best performing marketing campaigns. That way, next event, you can tighten up your marketing budget spend and focus on the strongest channels.

“Very simply, we look at conversions. We find that all the likes, impressions, and followers in the world are not useful if they aren’t buying tickets!” — Lee Garber, Event Manager at Chicago Twenty Something

Event life cycle step 11: Track your ROI

Using the information you’ve gathered, calculate your return on investment (ROI) and use it to compare your profitability year over year. The basic equation is: [(Total Sales Revenue – Total Cost of the Event) ÷ Total Cost of Event]  X 100 = ROI. You can learn more about how to measure and report on ROI in Your Step-By-Step Guide to Measure Event ROI More Effectively.

Event life cycle step 12: Compare your results to your goals

Remember those goals you set during the pre-planning phase? Bring them out and compare actual results to what you had hoped to achieve. Then, explore areas where you fell short. Doing a post mortem of your event’s performance can help you pinpoint what needs to change.

For example ,what worked and what didn’t work during your event promotions? Track metrics as each marketing campaign unfolds to fine tune as you go, such as your social media analytics and ticketing platform’s event dashboard.

Take a deeper dive into using your event’s data in Beyond Registration: Using Data to Supercharge Your Event.

At every stage: Use the right event tech

With ticket sales accounting for 70% of the average event’s revenue, having the right ticketing partner is critical to selling out your event. Simplify your planning and delight your attendees with easy checkout experiences with Eventbrite today. To get started, set up your next event.

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